Meet Our SWIMkids USA Family
Meet instructors Sarah and Shaunna
SWIMkids USA is lead by a group of talented and energetic professionals dedicated to your child's success in swimming, gymnastics and dance. We have redefined the "lesson" experience for thousands of children by providing a unique, creative, animated and remarkably challenging style of teaching that keep children active, smiling and safe!
Lana Whitehead has owned and operated SWIMkids USA since 1971. The swim program is the result of Lana's Master's thesis which included four research projects tested and researched at Arizona State University. Lana has authored several swimming books, articles, videos, and has lectured internationally and nationally for professional education and swim forums.
Mrs. Whitehead received a Bachelor of Arts in Exercise Physiology and a Masters in Special Education, specializing in Sensory Integration and training children with disabilities, including signing to the deaf. She holds Arizona and California Teaching Certificates and is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine. She is certified in American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor, StarGuard Lifesaving, CPR and First Aid for the Professional Rescuer and YMCA Adaptive Swimming Instruction.
Lana has been a competitive swim coach and served as a State and National USA Swimming Official. She and her team continually strive to meet higher standards in the industry by attending numerous training workshops and seminars at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, U.S. Swim School Association and the World Aquatic Baby Congress. In 2012, she was inducted into the U.S. School Association's prestigious Hall of Fame.
Melissa SuttonAfter graduating from the University of Utah with a bachelor of science in pre-med biology, Melissa went on to receive a two-year post-graduate certificate in non-profit management from Arizona State University. Melissa came to SWIMkids USA from the non-profit field, formerly granting celebrity athlete wishes at Make-A-Wish Foundation. She is also the owner of Risinger Consulting and Event planning, an event planning firm. Melissa's other community involvement has included serving as a volunteer for the Arizona chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a former officer in the East Valley Rotary Club, a mentor for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation's Team-In-Training program, and as an advisor for several Valley non-profit organizations through Arizona State University's school of Non-Profit Management. In her free time, Melissa enjoys traveling, scuba diving, skiing, spending time with her husband, sons, family and friends, as well as training for marathons and triathlons while raising funds for causes close to her heart. Melissa is currently serving on the board of the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona.
General Manager, Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona Board Member
Alma BlancoAfter graduating from Hamilton High School, Alma Blanco began teaching swim, dance, and gymnastics with SWIMkids USA. She is looking forward to tailoring her skills at beauty school, then going on to study nursing at a community college. As a SWIMkids USA alum, Alma says "The best part of working with children is getting to know each and every one of them and being able to make an impact, no matter how big or small." The fluent Spanish-speaker enjoys spending free time with her family, listening to music, playing with her dog, and being outdoors.
Angie BagnoliAngie Bagnoli Has worked for SWIMkids USA both as an aquatics instructor and as a member of our customer service team since 2010. In 2012, she has also became our executive assistant. Prior to her time working here, she spent two years working at a daycare facility. Being a mom of a toddler keeps her busy when she's not here.
Annette BaileyAnnette Bailey, SWIMkids USA Front Desk Superstar and Retail Coordinator Extraordinaire, joined SWIMkids USA in 1999. She was born in Cedar City, Utah and served a Latter Day Saints mission in England for two years. Annette brings many years of customer service experience to SWIMkids USA. She attended beauty school and was a hair stylist for many years. Then she and her husband owned a Dunkin Donuts for sixteen years and a Blimpie's for six years.
In her free time, Annette dabbles in real estate, goes fishing and watches sports. She is very proud of her four children and eight grandchildren. She loves life and working here. "Working with children makes me very happy."
Ashley CissellAshley is all about swimming and customer service. She made it to the top with her high school varsity swim team, and began teaching swim classes soon after graduation. In addition to being CPR and lifeguard certified, Ashley is currently working toward earning an associate degree in general studies at Chandler Gilbert Community College.
“I work here because I want to share my passion for swimming with kids,” she said. “And SWIMkids USA is the perfect way to do that!”
When she’s not greeting you at the front desk or working with the kids, Ashley enjoys going on adventures and relaxing with her
Brandon WhiteheadAfter growing up in the Valley of the Sun, Brandon Whitehead joined the family business and began teaching for SWIMkids USA in 1990. Brandon served two years on a church mission in West Virginia and then graduated from Mesa Community College and from RSSA as a Certified Nursing Assistant. He is certified by USA Swimming as a coach, by the U.S. Swim School Association and by StarGuard in CPR and in lifeguarding. Currently at SWIMkids USA, he is the Director of Training, a swim instructor, deck manager and swim team coach. Married in 1999, Brandon and his wife have a handsome son. When Brandon lost his first son to leukemia in 2006, he and his family established Blake's Miracle Foundation to create something positive from the loss. In his free time, Brandon enjoys riding his ATV and playing his XBOX.
Director of Training
Britt KimballAt an early age, Britt Kimball remembers taking summer swim lessons in Scottsdale and wanting to be a swim instructor. She went to Rice University in Houston, where she majored in Sociology and Behavioral Sciences. She took life guarding as a Physical Education class and worked for three summers at the YMCA and at a backyard swim school. Following her interest in event planning, she worked for the Old Pecan Street Festival in Austin, the Tempe Festival of the Arts, and the Arizona Hospitality Expo. In 1999, she received her Masters of Business Administration from Arizona State University and in 2003, she became a Certified Festival and Event Executive. She joined SWIMkids USA in 2004 as a swim instructor and became the creativity specialist. She is currently studying to be an occupational therapist at A.T. Still University in Mesa. She loves children's energy, enthusiasm and frankness, and loves to be creative in order to help her students any way she can. For instance, she paints her toenails bright colors to keep her students attention underwater. When she's not studying, Britt enjoys family time with her two daughters, doing crafts, and being active.
Bryan CraneBryan started in September 2003 as Aquatic Director and is currently an aquatic instructor and Head Deck Manager. Since 1991, Bryan has served as a swim coach, pool manager and Aquatics Director at many organizations, as well as assistant coach for Desert Thunder Aquatic Club. Bryan completed studies in Kinesiology at Whitworth College in Spokane, WA. Bryan's passion is to see children develop from infancy through swim team so they can develop a life-long love for the water as he did. Bryan swam competitively in high school and college and now swims on the Master's team he started. Bryan is also an avid road and mountain biker who enjoys spending time with his family playing on the trampoline, barbequing, cooking s'mores over a backyard campfire and just relaxing with a fun movie.
Director of Teams
Bryce WhiteheadBryce Whitehead has worked for SWIMkids USA since 1997, taking a break in order to fulfill a two-year mission in Peru. He has been a swim instructor, a deck manager and Head Coach of Desert Thunder Elite and our SWIMteam USA. Bryce graduated with his BA in Psychology from Arizona State University in 2011.
Assistant General Manager, Assistant Team Lead, Head Coach of DTAC 10 & Under Elite, and Aquatic Instructor
Chet LakeJoining SWIMkids USA in 2008, Chet now serves as the Aquatics Director, as well as deck manager, coach and aquatics instructor. He immediately puts into action what he learns in his Kinesiology classes at Arizona State University. Chet enjoys teaching children to be safe in the water, and finds value in facilitating their learning, growth and success.
Director of Aquatics
Diana MorenoStarting in 2013, Diana Moreno began providing child care at SWIMkids USA for staff. She is also trained as a hair stylist. She loves being with kids: "I like working with kids because every day is a new experience with them." In her free time, she plays soccer as much as she can.
Elizabeth AsheElizabeth started working at SWIMkids USA in 2011 in the pool. Before joining us, Elizabeth had many different jobs, some of which involved working with children, including the Cubhouse at Bashas' and the Sears Portrait Studio. According to Elizabeth: The biggest difference between here and the portrait studio is that "After the kids stop crying, I don't have to try to make them look good." Elizabeth also taught ballroom dancing at Fred Astaire. Elizabeth looks forward to starting a family with her husband, Nick.
Erin BoelterErin has been part of the SWIMkids USA family for four years, and she doesn't plan to slow down anytime soon. She might not have kids of her own, but that doesn't mean she lacks experience with the kiddos! Erin has lived the babysitter and nanny life, and she has also worked the children's department at the Phoenix Comicon.
"I have seen how much my work touches and impacts people's lives," she said, adding that she finds personal satisfaction in teaching our WaterSMART Babies classes, as well as survival levels. "I get to touch a part of their lives."
In her free time, Erin enjoys exploring the world of baking, and will be attending baking and pastry school in the winter.
Eva BrockiEva Brocki was born in the Czech Republic and came to the United States in 1998. In high school, she participated in volleyball and gymnastics. She worked as a nanny for seven years and now works as a preschool teacher. She joined SWIMkids USA in 2008 as a gym instructor. She says that "working with children is her passion. I like to see their faces when they accomplish a new skill or move up." She has a son and likes to work out at the gym and eat healthy.
Jay WimmerJay Wimmer joined SWIMkids USA in 2012 as a gym instructor, bringing seven years of gymnastic experience including competition. Jay says, "The best part about working with children is that the environment is always changing, no two classes are ever the same which keeps it fun. Every child has their own personality and brings it with them to class. It also is preparing me for when I have my own children." He is currently attending Arizona State University, possibly to major in Russian. He also likes to model, act, hang out with his friends, and play board games. Watch out - he's extremely competitive when it comes to board games.
Justin RichardsonJustin has been working with SWIMkids USA since 2010, where he has worked as a swim instructor, deck manager, and trainer. Prior, Justin was a swim coach and a lifeguard for the city of Scottsdale for two years.
Safety Team Lead, Head Deck Manager
Lance WhiteheadLance Whitehead has been working for SWIMkids USA since 1995. As the eldest son of owner and founder, Lana Whitehead, Lance is THE original student for SWIMkids USA's famous Swim-Float-Swim sequence that has helped to keep so many children safe and swimming happily.
When you come in during the holidays you will notice how wonderfully decorated the front desk is. Thanks to Lance's creativity and hard work, SWIMkids USA becomes a holiday wonderland respective the seasonal holiday. Lance takes great joy in seeing the kids' faces light up with excitement at the extraordinary decorations.
Lance is the eldest of three boys. Lance's mother, Lana, is the founder and owner of SWIMkids USA, established in 1971.
Mark Boelter began his journey with SWIMkids USA in 2014, as a customer service specialist, swim instructor, deck manager and office worker. His favorite things about SWIMkids USA are the friendly environment, the close staff family and, of course, the kids.
“The best part of teaching is providing a lasting impression,” he said. “I like to know I’ve made a direct impact in somebody’s life, and if the in the future they look back at their childhood and remember me, I would be incredibly honored.”
Here’s a fun fact- Mark is all about chivalry! In fact, he was the youngest contracted worker at the Arizona Renaissance Festival. These days, he passes time studying at Rio Salado College and building customized computers.
Marie CarterMarie has been charming the hearts of children and parents alike here at SWIMkids USA since January of 2011. A job in the water was only natural after being a swimmer for 12 years. Prior to saving lives as an aquatic instructor in our pools, Marie saved lives as a lifeguard at Big Surf. Marie has always been a very active person, she did cheer for six years, tumbling, and dance. This lead her to teach cheer and dance for four years which translates well into teaching somersaults and back flips in our gym program. Marie is still as active as ever and in her free time she can often be found at the gym working out or doing yoga. She loves the weather in Arizona because it allows her to spend time outside hiking the trails or wakeboarding at the lake. You might start to see Marie outside of her role as an instructor, as she just finished her training to be an assistant deck manager. Marie is currently a student at MCC and plans to transfer to ASU to receive her bachelor's in Psychology with a minor in Spanish. Her love of the Spanish language led her to study abroad for a summer in Spain!
Dance Team Lead
Seth WilcockJoining SWIMkids USA in 2012 as an aquatic instructor, Seth Wilcock enjoys teaching and improving self-confidence. He brings people skills from customer service and serving opportunities and from his volunteer mission to South Carolina. He is working on a degree in business finance and plays the drums in a local band.
Shana EdmundsonShana started working at SWIMkids USA as a dance instructor in 2003. Since then, she has worked in nearly every department, teaching dance, gymnastics, swimming, and coaching. As a child, Shana began swimming at three years old and dancing at seven. She spent eight years competing in gymnastics and two years competing in swimming & diving. With her prolific dance experience, Shana is proficient in Tap, Jazz, Ballet/Pointe in both the French and Russian/Vaganova styles, Modern, Musical Theater and Hip Hop. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theater Arts - Dance and a minor in business management. She has three wonderful children: a Marine, an Army Ranger, and a SWIMkids USA dancer/swimmer.
About working with children, she says, "The innocence of children reminds me there are many good things in life and I should enjoy each and everyday. Their bold and sometimes frightening honesty reminds me to be honest and true to myself and others. There are so many things to learn from children. It's important to stop what we're doing, and take the time to watch, listen, learn and of course, LAUGH!!!".